Featured Chess Sets 2018

Through the Featured Chess Set project, the World Chess Hall of Fame showcases a variety of chess sets throughout the year. These include highlights from the institution’s collection as well as chess sets owned by Saint Louis metropolitan area friends and chess lovers who have special stories to accompany their sets.

Do you live in the Saint Louis metropolitan area and have a chess set with a great story? Submit it for inclusion in our Featured Chess Set project! This program highlights chess sets with interesting backgrounds borrowed from chess lovers and fans of the Hall of Fame. Featured chess sets are displayed for a period of one month at the World Chess Hall of Fame.

If you would like to participate in the program, send a photo and the story of the set to Emily Allred, Assistant Curator, at emily.allred@worldchesshof.org.

January

January’s Featured Chess Set is part of the collection of the World Chess Hall of Fame (WCHOF). Since its creation in 1986, the WCHOF has endeavored to highlight the history and cultural significance of the game of chess. The WCHOF’s collection is diverse and includes sets once owned by legendary players, mass-produced sets with lively pop culture themes, antique ivory sets, travel sets, as well as chess computers. Through these artifacts, the WCHOF illustrates how chess has evolved through its over 1500-year history.

NHL Collectors Edition Chess Set, 2003

USAopoly

NHL Collectors Edition Chess Set

2003

King size: 3 3⁄16 in.

Board: 20 x 14 7⁄8 in. 

Plastic and cardboard

Collection of the World Chess Hall of Fame

In the NHL Collectors Edition Chess Set, a hockey rink serves as the board for a unique chess set depicting hockey players, coaches, and referees. The set celebrates the National Hockey League (NHL), which was founded in 1917. At the time of its founding, the league only had five teams, but has since expanded to 31. Saint Louis, the location of the World Chess Hall of Fame (WCHOF), gained the Blues in 1967, when the league embarked on the largest expansion in the history of professional sports, doubling the number of teams from six to 12. In 1994, hockey became the official winter sport of Canada. This is one of a number of sports-themed chess sets in the collection of the WCHOF.

February

Since its creation in 1986, the World Chess Hall of Fame (WCHOF) has endeavored to highlight the history and cultural significance of the game of chess. The WCHOF’s collection includes a diverse array of chess sets, as well as many chess-themed objects like advertisements, barware, and home decor. This chess-themed lipstick was selected for display in connection with the WCHOF’s current exhibition PINNED! A Designer Chess Challenge, which displays chess-inspired fashion created by the inaugural class of the Saint Louis Fashion Incubator. Through these artifacts, the WCHOF illustrates how chess has evolved through its over 1500-year history and how it is perceived in popular culture.

Lipstick Queen, Lipstick Chess, 2017

Lipstick Queen

Lipstick Chess

2017

Lipstick tube: 2 ⅝ in.

Box: 2 ¾ x ¾ x ¾ in.

Matte lipstick and cardboard box

Collection of the World Chess Hall of Fame

Purling London

 

Luxury Chess Board

Date unknown

17 ⅝ x 17 ⅝ in.

Wood

Courtesy of Q Boutique

Unable to find matte lipstick in the 1940s-inspired colors she admired, Poppy King created her first brand of lipstick when she was 18 years old. She would later go on to found Lipstick Queen, the company that produces this chess-inspired line. Among the shades are Dashing Mocha Knight, Determined Mauve Bishop, and Ruby Red Queen. King visited the Chess Forum, a shop and game parlor in New York, to learn about chess while developing her chess-themed collection. Purling London, a producer of luxury chess sets, made the chessboard on which the lipstick is displayed.

March

March’s Featured Chess Set is part of the collection of the World Chess Hall of Fame (WCHOF). Since its creation in 1986, the WCHOF has endeavored to highlight the history and cultural significance of the game of chess. The WCHOF’s collection is diverse and includes sets once owned by legendary players, mass-produced sets with lively pop culture themes, antique ivory sets, travel sets, as well as chess computers. Through these artifacts, the WCHOF illustrates how chess has evolved through its over 1500-year history.

Good Luck Brand Travel Chess Set

J.S.N.Y. (Jeffrey Snyder New York)

Good Luck Brand Travel Chess Set

c. 1970s

King size: 9/16 in.

Case: 4 ½ x 4 x 4 11/16 in.

Plastic

Collection of the World Chess Hall of Fame

Created to be used while on the go, this diminutive chess set is contained in a carrying case decorated with a shamrock. The red and white pieces have pegs on their bases and the board has corresponding holes, which keep the pieces in place during play. The pieces are miniature versions of Staunton style pieces, the familiar style of chess set used for tournament play. The history of these sets will be examined in an upcoming World Chess Hall of Fame exhibition titled The Staunton Standard: Evolution of the Modern Chess Set, which will open on April 12, 2018.

April

April’s Featured Chess Set is part of the collection of the World Chess Hall of Fame (WCHOF). Since its creation in 1986, the WCHOF has endeavored to highlight the history and cultural significance of the game of chess. The WCHOF’s collection is diverse and includes sets once owned by legendary players, mass-produced sets with lively pop culture themes, antique ivory sets, travel sets, as well as chess computers. Through these artifacts, the WCHOF illustrates how chess has evolved through its over 1500-year history. April’s Featured Set is on view in connection with The Sinquefield Effect: The Resurgence of American Chess, which celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Saint Louis Chess Club.

The James Game Chess Set and Board, 2010

The James Game Chess Set and Board

2010

King size: 3 ¼ in.

Board: 21 x 21 in.

Wood

Collection of the Saint Louis Chess Club

This board is inscribed in honor of James “The James Game” Miller and is usually available for play at the Saint Louis Chess Club (STLCC). Miller, who passed away in 2010, was more than just a regular at the STLCC. His outgoing personality and friendly demeanor made him an easily approachable opponent and a joy to play against. James had the ability to make you smile whether you were winning or losing, and his one-liners were a constant source of amusement for members and staff alike. With his death, the Chess Club lost not just one of their most loyal members, but also a part of our family.

The unique brand of chess he brought to the Club on a daily basis earned him the nickname, “The James Game,” characterized by his uncharacteristic openings that could, at times, stymie his opponents. He liked the idea of forcing people out of their element by presenting them with challenging and unfamiliar positions. His upbeat personality and cheery disposition were infectious. James had the ability to brighten the room when he would walk in, and his presence at the Club is sorely missed.

May

May’s Featured Set is on loan to the World Chess Hall of Fame (WCHOF) from Duncan Pohl. Pohl is the author of Vintage Chess Sets of the United States, which includes extensive research about a wide variety of American chess sets and the companies that created them. Pohl is a lender to the WCHOF’s current exhibition The Staunton Standard: Evolution of the Modern Chess Set. The exhibition includes Staunton-style and Staunton chessmen from 1849 to the present day.

Duncan Pohl Set

Hasbro Industries

Hasbro Design East Chess Set

c. 1968-85

King size: 2 3/16 in.

Board: 1 ¾ x 11 ½ x 11 ½ in.

Plastic and cardboard

Collection of Duncan Pohl

Simplified silhouettes of Staunton chessmen appear to float on clear plastic pieces in this inventive set. Hasbro’s advertising hailed the set as “The Game of ages! But in a design no older than ‘now’. This Mars-like planetary set reveres the tradition; has all ‘men’ in one shape, opponent colors identify the pieces. Men are prismatic. A really new interpretation of chessmen—for collector and beginner alike.” The board has alternating brown and blue squares decorated with heraldic symbols: fleur de lis and lions standing on their hind legs. Hasbro, the world’s largest toy manufacturer, created the set.

June

Since its creation in 1986, the World Chess Hall of Fame (WCHOF) has endeavored to highlight the history and cultural significance of the game of chess. The WCHOF’s collection is diverse and includes sets once owned by legendary players, mass-produced sets with lively pop culture themes, antique ivory sets, travel sets, as well as chess computers. Through these artifacts, the WCHOF illustrates how chess has evolved through its over 1500-year history.

Hand-Carved Wooden Chess Set, 1968

Taiwan

Hand-carved Wooden Chess Set

1968

King size: 5 in.

Board: 2 5⁄8 x 18 x 18 in.

Wood

Collection of the Senger Family

June’s Featured Chess Set is on loan to the World Chess Hall of Fame from the Senger family. Andrew Senger received this hand carved chess set as a gift from his grandfather, who had purchased it while stationed at CCK Air Force Base in Taiwan. The set includes pagodas, or tiered towers, as rooks and dragons as the knights. The pawns are individualized, each in a different pose and holding a different instrument.

July

July’s Featured Chess Set was selected in honor of the Saint Louis Chess Club’s tenth anniversary, which is on July 17, 2018. Dr. Jeanne Sinquefield, who co-founded the Club with her husband Rex Sinquefield, designed the set. The two also provided the seed funding to move the World Chess Hall of Fame to Saint Louis and continue to provide support for exhibitions and programming. You can learn more about their effect on chess in the United States and around the world in the World Chess Hall of Fame’s current exhibition The Sinquefield Effect: The Resurgence of American Chess.

Chess 2 Go, 2013

Chess2Go

2013

King size: 1 ⅜ in. dia.

Board: 15 x 15 in.

Plastic

Collection of the World Chess Hall of Fame, gift of the Saint Louis Chess Club

©Chess2Go

Dissatisfied with traditional designs for portable chess sets, Dr. Jeanne Sinquefield, Scoutmaster and Inventor Steve Goldstein, and Life Scout Sam Goldstein conceptualized Chess2Go while camping at Camp Sinquefield in Missouri. They desired to find a replacement for small pieces that were difficult to see but easy to lose and the rectangular boxes that could be uncomfortable when carrying in a backpack. After returning home, they created several prototypes, including one with a neckerchief chessboard. The final result is the set which you can play here, which has a pin to hold the pieces when not in use.

August

August’s Featured Chess Set is part of the collection of the World Chess Hall of Fame (WCHOF). The donors, Dr. Jack and Anitra Sheen, were neighbors of Peter Ganine, the artist who created it. Ganine was a Russian-American sculptor who not only created fine art, but also was a well-known designer of toys and chess sets. He patented one of his best-known designs—the rubber duckie—in 1949. Two of the chess sets he designed appeared on tri-dimensional chessboards in the classic television show Star Trek: The Original Series.

Artist's Proof "Conqueror" Set, 1962

Peter Ganine

Artist’s Proof “Conqueror” Chess Set

1962

King size: 6 5/16 in.

Sterling silver and mahogany

Collection of the World Chess Hall of Fame, gift of Dr. Jack and Anitra Sheen in memory of Peter Ganine

These elegant sterling silver and mahogany pieces are upscale versions of those in the plastic Conqueror chess set designed by Peter Ganine. Pacific Games Company, which was based in Hollywood, California, where Ganine lived and where a vibrant chess community thrived in the mid 20th-century, produced the set. The pieces feature solemn-faced members of a royal court whose expressions recall those on the pieces in his earlier “Gothic” chess set. In interviews, Ganine said that by giving the pieces emotions and personality, he wanted to challenge the supremacy of the tournament-style Staunton set, which is the subject of the World Chess Hall of Fame’s current exhibition The Staunton Standard: Evolution of the Modern Chess Set.

September

September’s Featured Chess Set is a one-of-a-kind creation designed by Boy Scout Chandler Francis. He produced the set and board at the blacksmithing pavilion and Sinquefield Invention Lab at the Lake of the Ozarks Scout Reservation, Great Rivers Council, which is located outside Laurie, Missouri. Established in 2017, the Sinquefield Invention Lab is named for its founder Dr. Jeanne Sinquefield and has the mission “to facilitate hands-on education and invention of new ideas and technologies, while utilizing problem-solving skills, creativity, and imagination in a team environment. It features a number of tools to foster creativity, including 3D printers, laser engravers, and the epilog laser used to create the board for this set. Sinquefield, who is passionate about the Boy Scouts and was instrumental in the creation of the Boy Scouts of America chess merit badge, is a co-founder of the Saint Louis Chess Club and along with her husband Rex, provided the seed funding for moving the World Chess Hall of Fame to Saint Louis.

Hand Forged Chess Set, 2018

Chandler Francis

Hand Forged Chess Set

2018

King size: 3 ⅜ in. 

Board: 11 ¾ x 11 ¾ in.

Steel and wood

Collection of Chandler Francis

Chandler Francis created this unique chess set in order to earn his metalworking merit badge. Earning this merit badge requires learning about alloys, metalworking techniques, and safety as well as choosing one of the four options of sheet metal mechanic/tinsmith, silversmith, founder or blacksmithing and completing a project. With the assistance of camp counselor and metalworking merit badge counselor Justin Tattich, Chandler Francis completed this blacksmithing project. Though scouts are usually only required to create two objects, Francis is passionate about chess and chose to create a full set using a variety of smithing techniques. The set, which is paired with a board made on an epilog laser, brings together old and new skills.

October

October’s Featured Chess Set is on loan to the World Chess Hall of Fame (WCHOF) courtesy of Lawrence Cole. Cole is a member of Chess Collectors International, an organization founded in 1984 and dedicated to the study and promulgation of the art and history of chess artifacts. Cole received his first chess set from his grandfather, who was a chess enthusiast, but did not start seriously collecting until the 1980s, when his work as a minister took him overseas, and he traveled through South America and Africa. He favors unique sets that are handmade and that tell stories of their makers, cultural exchange, or the friends who have helped him build his collection, which now numbers over 300. Cole states that, “All collectors are curators of their collection for their immediate lifetime, and after that, they pass them on to someone else.”

Carved POW Set with Box and Photograph

Max [Last name unknown]

Hand-Carved Prisoner-of-War Chess Set

c. 1940s

King size: 3 3⁄4 in.

Box: 4 3⁄8 x 6 1⁄2 x 9 1⁄8  in.

Photograph: 5 1⁄2 x 3 5⁄8 in.

Wood and felt

Collection of Lawrence Cole

Decorated with hand-carved leaves, this set was created by a German prisoner of war named Max in Scotland during World War II. The number of German prisoners of war in Great Britain peaked in September 1946 at 402,200. Trusted prisoners, like the creator of this set, were permitted to leave camps to complete work assignments at locations across the country.

Max was held in a prisoner-of-war camp in Perthshire, Scotland, and created the set for a friend whom he had met on work assignment, Reverend Colin Finnie Miller, the parish minister at Auchtergaven, Bankfoot, Perthshire. Max can be seen with Miller’s son in the photo accompanying the set. German prisoners of war often created small crafts for sale or as gifts from materials that they had at hand. Lawrence Cole, the current owner of the set, views the set as a powerful symbol of friendship during a time of war. More information about this set can be found in the Spring 2018 edition of the CCI - USA magazine.

Check back next month for a new featured chess set!